Aschenbach held off the challenge from his rivals from there. He’ll also start on the Motul pole for Round Nine on Saturday after setting the fastest lap in Round Eight.
“Hats off to the Blackdog Speed Shop and Camaro guys first off, because we struggled a bit yesterday, but the guys kept digging,” said Aschenbach. “The biggest thing today was keeping our nose clean. I think Andy got screwed up and we both got by. Traffic can be so unpredictable, and you need to commit and go to get through the field.”
Lee made it past Baldwin for second but was looking for more after his third runner-up finish of the season, his second to Aschenbach (Round 4, at Circuit of the Americas).
“It started out with a bit of bad luck, got pushed a bit off track and went from first to third,” said Lee. “We had to work back cleanly from there. Later on we just kind of got an unlucky break. I pushed a little too hard and made some mistakes. We’re looking forward to a better race tomorrow.”
Baldwin held onto third after a fierce battle with Tom Long in the No. 60 LotusUSA/Taggart Autosport/LRR Lotus Exige. The result could give the points leader a restart of his podium streak, because he finished each of the first six races in the top three and only finished off the podium for the first time at Round 7 in Detroit.
“You know, it almost worked out today,” said Baldwin. “It was tough for me because I had a really good car; I thought I had the winning car. These guys in front of me did a nice job. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Mark Wilkins in the No. 38 KIA Motors America KIA Optima and Peter Cunningham in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX completed the top five. Cunningham improved from seventh on the grid to fifth place.
Alec Udell, in the No. 17 Motorsports Development Ford Mustang Boss 302R, took home the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after an excellent drive from 24th on the grid in the 25-car class to eighth place.
“It’s been a long two days for us,” said Udell. “The crew was up until the crack of dawn. They got the motor together and up and running. It was a long, hot, and intense race. I had a lot of fun because it was clean racing, with almost no touches.”
Wilkins’ teammate, Nic Jonsson in the No. 36 KIA Motors America KIA Optima improved from last in the 25-car class up to 12th, and secured the Optima Batteries Best Start Award.
Nick Esayian in the No. 34 HPD/Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX, was involved in an accident on lap 29. Esayian was OK after the incident and will race on Saturday.